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Few Confessions of an UX BarCamp Volunteer

By Karla Schlaepfer
barcamp, join creative people, hamburg, ux

I really had no idea what I was in for when I signed up to help out at the UX BarCamp in Hamburg.

I naively assumed that since entrance is free (for those lucky enough to get a ticket – sold out almost immediately!), the “camp” would take place in some fancied-up, hole-in-the-wall somewhere in nowhere. Astonished, I rang the bell at a chic, new, glass and stone building tucked into a side street in Hamburg Altona. OMG, I’m totally underdressed …

The location was at SinnerSchrader, Germany’s 4th largest marketing and digital agency and it was downright elegant. The BarCamp organizers had harvested a number of high-profile sponsors and this venue, and the generosity of resources that characterized this event, revealed their skills in designing an almost-perfect BarCamp with the necessary touch of laissez-faire.

The other busy volunteers had already completed most of the when I finally arrived (thank you Deutsche Bahn!). Carrying tables, filling goodies bags, equipping rooms with paper and pens and decorating donation boxes and the feedback box was the meat of my work. Trivial, you think? Yes and no. Would you put money in an ugly, plastic yogurt container? The UX camp community’s donations at the end of the day, reached the goal of 500€ (or almost), enabling local refugee kids to be presented with a gift of a day at the local zoo.

More content-heavy responsibilities came at me once the Bar Camp started. I was the time-keeper and trouble- shooter for the sessions held in “Precious” – the ultra-cool design agency in a nearby loft. Some insights:

  • A very international audience. Sessions were held usually held in English.

  • A wide variety of topics and sessions with high- quality content. Here a super short short-list:from user psychology to empathy, prototyping with robotics to dark patterning in e-commerce, from animation to gaming, Design Thinking by defaut to examples of UX research and testing. For more see: All the sessions I heard were interactive and outlined good if not innovative, cool insights.

  • The networking in between the session and during the lunch break, later at the bbque (fantastic food!) was just as valuable and fun.

  • What is behind this broad term “UX experience” -this catch-all term for front-end and back-end application of new technologies used to design compelling user experiences? There is so much interconnectivity in these “user centered” –issues and lots of potential to learn from each other at this kind of event where participation is everything. Bar Camps live from the energy and input of its users.

What do you think, does the “Bar” in Bar Camp, have something to do with the incredible drinks made with special Hamburgian Gin that Fran mixed at the end of the day….? And yes, I confess, I would do it again ☺

Karla Schlaepfer


*Note: The names of the two people in the top photo are Jassmine & Christian.